It’s never too late to pick up a new hobby or art form, but it’s still smart to start off with some in-person instruction.
Luckily, if you’re an adult looking to begin (or revisit) painting, drawing, singing, piano, guitar, or just about anything else in the arts, there’s a camp or a class for that in West Michigan. In fact, there’s no way we can fit all the opportunities available in one article — we’re not even touching on theater classes — but this is a great place to get started.
Prepare to get out and express yourself as a thoughtful, imaginative, adventurous adult with one of these art classes this year!
Blue Lake Summer Camp for Adults
300 E. Crystal Lake Rd., Twin Lake | bluelake.org
Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp is one of the most inspiring and influential arts organizations around, teaching thousands of students every summer since 1966. Music, art, dance, drama, they teach it all on a beautiful 1,600-acre campus in Manistee National Forest.
If you miss those camp days of youth, the Summer Camp for Adults is the perfect opportunity. There a number of four-day sessions in July and August, ranging from saxophone choir to concert band, horn choir, string orchestras and more. Or stop in for a one-day session on unique instruments like hand-drumming and Irish fiddling.
For those simply looking to experience the joy of playing with other people, Blue Lake’s Chamber Music for Fun is a six-day (August 15-20) program for string musicians and includes on-camp housing and meals, along with professional coaching.
Interlochen Lifelong Learning
4000 J. Maddy Pkwy, Interlochen | interlochen.com
Interlochen Center for the Arts isn’t just a renowned school for teens, they also have a huge selection of programs for adults, including the Adult Band Camp (Aug. 9-14) and Choir Camp (June 27-July 2). Both programs include master classes, daily ensemble/tutti and sectional rehearsals, performance opportunities and more. Either commute or stay on-campus at the Stone Hotel!
Interlochen also has plenty of other, shorter programs, such as the Fingerstyle Guitar Workshop (July 27-30), Mountain Dulcimer Workshop (June 11), a Writers Retreat (June 5-10) and more. Check the website to see all the offerings, including online courses.
Ox-Bow CAMP and Summer Courses
3435 Rupprecht Way, Saugatuck | ox-bow.org
Ox-Bow has been around for a century, and the formerly known Summer School of Painting has expanded their educational offerings over the years. CAMP, the three week summer intensive, is geared for degree-seeking students over the age of 18 in visual art programs. Students pick two courses from ceramics, glass, painting, metals or a special topic, all taught by working professional artists. Running from July 15 to August 6, accepted students will automatically receive a partial scholarship.
There is also a plethora of less intense but still highly educational offerings, with Ox-Bow's Art on the Meadow workshops. The intergenerational program is for West Michiganders looking to get in the studio for metals, painting, zines, papermaking, mosaics, music, poetry, and so much more.
Grand Rapids Art Museum Workshops
101 Monroe Center St. NW, Grand Rapids | artmuseumgr.org
The GRAM’s offerings are varied and frequent, offered year-round. Approximately once a month, a three-hour Adult Workshop is held, each focusing on one unique technique (such as Joomchi or photographic manipulation) that ties into the museum’s current exhibitions on display. Or, stop in for the monthly Saturday Studio Sessions, more general artmaking sessions that are especially friendly to beginners. If you want to learn alongside your child, stop in for a free drop-in studio class every Saturday.
UICA Summer Classes
17 Fountain St. NW, Grand Rapids | uica.org/learn
As part of Kendall College of Art and Design, of course the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts has in-person community art classes this summer. Currently on the roster are beginner courses for Digital Photography (June 13-29) and Beginning Watercolor (July 11-27).
Meijer Gardens Classes
1000 E. Beltline Ave. NE, Grand Rapids | meijergardens.org
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is positively replete with one-session classes that typically last a few hours. In May alone, adult art courses include Floral Chinese Ink Drawing, multiple Bonsai classes, stone landscaping, gorgeous living wreaths and so much more. Head to the website for a full list of offerings lasting all year long.